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Not Starting from point zero


New member
Hi there,
I have been doing calisthenics for over a year. In the last couple of months I have not made any progress, so I bought CC book because I've heard a lot about it.
After reading it and dedicated myself to it, I have some questions.
I know there is an example of level progress month by month, but in case of previously doing calisthenics, is it necessary to progress so slowly? Can I do each level in week until I get to point where I was?
Or should I go slowly from beginning? Wouldn't I lose some gained strength?

Thanks for answers.


New member
Only my opinion...

Here's the way I use it (I was able to do one arm pull up, one arm pushups, pistols, hanging leg raises, and 2 handed handstand pushups before I started), if you want to progress fast, meet the progression standard for each level with the proper cadence (very important), one per workout.

For example, workout 1: 3 sets of wall pushups at progression standard reps doing 2:1:2 cadence.

Keep moving up until you can't meet the progression standard at the required cadence. This is the level you belong at in the system.

I usually make people take it a little slower, but if you want to get back to higher intensity, make sure you are fit enough to clear each level.


New member
Starting from step one and progressing from there serves to establish your base line for CC. But if you know exactly where you stand, then proceed as you wish...Dennis

Chris Hansen

New member
I agree with the above. If you can make the progression standard, I see no reason not to move on. Try level 1 at the first workout. If you make the progression standard then try level 2 at the next workout. Continue until you don't make the progression standard and work from there.


New member
I disagree to a little extent, I would suggest that you dedicate a a few weeks to each of the earlier progressions to ensure that all your stabilisers muscles and soft tissues are all strong enough to handle the later exercises. You can work out harder and more regularly, but it's better to spend time in it earlier than to have to regress later.

In the worst case, how much time will you take to blow through the first 5 progressions? 2 months if you dedicate 2 weeks to each earlier progressions?


New member
I'd agree with ComradeCat, but it depends on how experienced you are and what kind of injury background you're coming from. You mention you were doing calisthenics and stopped making progress. From the way you're already edging towards skipping ahead in the program before even starting, you might want to back-up a bit and examine your training style, nutrition etc. Why do you think your progress stalled out? What's going to be different with CC?


New member
The key point is that there isn't a one size fits all for CC.

For me... I ploughed through progression 1 of the big 4, and when I moved over to progression 2 on the big 4, I started seeing retardation on my progression. I dropped back to progression 1, focused on doing the exercises correctly and with extremely strict form, and I started seeing progress on progression 2 exercise I used to flail badly on just to hit intermediate standards.

While I wouldn't use this as a template, have you considered hitting the following:
  1. Strictly implementing the 2-1-2 cadence.
    • If you're not having any difficulty with the 2-1-2, try completing all the progression standards for the early exercises you find easy with a 3-1-3 cadence as a test. If you can hit the progression standards with this slower cadence, you'd definitely ready to hit the next stage.
    • Make sure your form is textbook standard.
  2. Check your form, especially
    • keeping a straight body for the pull-up and push-up progressions
    • weight distribution and keeping your knee as perpendicular to the floor as possible, while flexing your back as little as possible for the squats
    • actually feeling the strain in your lower abs and keeping your legs in the correct form for the leg raises
    • Keeping your body as neutral as possible for the HSPU, close the gap for your hand stances
    • Driving your hips as high as you can while clenching your glutes and lower back as much as possible for the bridges
  3. Practise proper full ROM for your progressions while maintaining strict form.
  4. Work out more regularly like how the CrossFitter do.
    • Instead of working out 2 twice a week, work out every alternate day
    • Do 3 progressions instead of 2 each workout.
    • Workout twice a day instead of once each day.
  5. While CC doesn't like passive stretching, trying fully stretching out your targeted muscles before each set

I have implemented a variety and range of the above suggestions, and have seen strength progress on progression 1 of the CC. That's progression 1 of the big 4 with bridging work and pike handstands (to train up for HSPU), not even progression 2.

The thing about CC is that it is not a competition (unless you consider the "race" to be the first to do a OAHSPU) to see who gets to the Master Step first.

Focus on completing each progression with as strict form and with as much stability as possible. If you re-read the book, there are "hidden progressions" between each of the 10 progressions. Each of these additional progressions will keep hitting your muscles harder and also increase focus on muscles which weren't heavily recruited previously.

E.g. Have you tried bringing your hands 1 inch closer together, and 1 inch closer to the floor on wall pushups? Suddenly those 150 reps will feel more difficult than before.

I've not really seen any loss in strength by working and mastering the earlier progression, so long as each time I work on it I make the workout harder. If you're really concerned about strength loss, then try to implement strength test at the end of each workout to see if you're getting stronger. I use measures like straight reps of pull-ups, kettlebell swings and snatches, planche timing, or even tests of harder progressions (like hanging leg raises) to see how strong I am and if my current workout plans is still producing result.

If you notice progress at the end of each strength test after a workout, then you can keep milking your current progression for greater overall progression.

If you're stalling or regressing on the strength test despite knocking out more reps on the CC progression, check your form and cadence (which are the typical cheat avenues) first. If all is good, then its time to progress.

Personally I worry about how much potential I'm not milking from each progression instead of how fast I'm progressing up the CC progression ladder.
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New member
shapingthecon :I have not yet been injured. And I think my progress stopped mainly because I couldn't find step between some advanced exercises and because of that I was unable to make any progress which led to frustration. I think cc has pretty good coverage of steps in progress.

ComradeCat Thank you for your advices. I already started doing big six progression by Veterano plan. I started from first level with progression standard doing 2-1-2 cadance. I will stay on the same level one more week doing 3-1-3 cadence, if everything will go well I will move to the next one. I will do this just in low levels. I am also watching my form, actually I always check the book between sets just to make myself sure of it.
Thanks again.


Moses Correa

New member
IN everything that you do use good judgement. I have been a trainer a long time and have had people progress quickly and have good technique throughout their movements. Then there are people that progress more slowly. I say that to say that the best thing to do to make sure that you continue to make progress is to test your self out against the standard and work at what is difficult for you as needed. There is no sense in doing what you don't need and also you may surprised what is difficult for you in the progressions of cc.:)


New member
Moses, that is well said!
I personally wasted a lot of time in my life on what I thought I should be doing.
People can enjoy discussing training all day (I do my fair share), but actual training requires working around your personal reality.


New member
People can enjoy discussing training all day (I do my fair share), but actual training requires working around your personal reality.

And preference.

What Moses says has a good point... good judgement is critical, but I'd also like to add that a good awareness of self is equally important.

I've caught myself slipping on my form just because my mind and attention wander when I was working out. Pay attention to much focus and attention you've given to yourself, your body and your form when you work out and maybe you'll also notice things you ought to be or ought not to be doing.

Also, if you find CC not to be giving you regular progress, there's no harm in moving away to other things like weight lifting, kettlebells or even just jumping a progression for a few session and coming back to where you left off. That simple change of doing something different for a session every now and again can help break through a stall point or help in terms of a progression you're struggling in.

For me, I also find that Pavel's PTTP and TNW has some really helpful tips and advice that is really applicable to CC, particularly in the areas of full body tension. Heck, try CrossFit's WOD every now and again, I like the variety it brings to the table.

Chris Hansen

New member
Some people also need more frequency to make progress while some people need less. If you've stalled but feel fresh, you might try adding another workout day to the week. If you've stalled but you feel fatigued, maybe you need to cut back.

Wild Pegasus

New member
I think it would help to know where you stalled out. There's a big difference between stalling out before getting to 3 reps of something and stalling out before getting to 15 reps.


New member
I've stalled on 12 reps pull-ups. Then even dropped to 8. When it comes to other things it was like 50 squats, 40 push-ups , 7 handstand push-ups. But pull-ups drove me crazy.


New member
So... how's progress?

For the pull-ups are you pulling with your arms or your back? Have you paid good attention to which muscle you're hitting?

One of the problems I also face is that when I did pull-ups initially, I was trying to use my arms to muscle my weight up, without strong recruitment of the back muscles and lats. Is that happening to you too?
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